11— Getting to Work: Thoughts on the Function and Form of the School-to-Work Transition

Lauren B. Resnick

The question of articulation between the formal schooling system and young people's early work experience is as old as schooling itself. Once it became normal for most young people to be educated in schools rather than in apprenticeships, or even less formal on-the-job settings, the transition between school and work took on broad social import. Over the years public discussions in this country have mostly concerned issues of selection and preparation for the work force. For the most part there has been only peripheral attention to how the nature of the transition between schoolhouse and workplace might affect the broad social fabric of the nation: the kinds of responsibilities people feel toward one another, their sense of belonging to a polity, their sense of personal and civic purpose. In the course of this essay I will discuss all three of these functions of a school-to-work system, considering the kinds of institutional arrangements and technical resources each calls for and how a system might be designed that meets all three sets of needs. To set the stage, I begin with a brief consideration of the three functions.

Selection And Signaling

Economists have long been concerned with the ways in which school performance and educational attainment can play a role in allocating young people to job opportunities (e.g., Arrow, 1973; Spence, 1974; Wolpin, 1977). More recently, John Bishop (1996), has argued that a more efficient system of signaling high school students' competencies to employers would be economically beneficial to employers by helping them to select the candidates most likely to perform



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--> 11— Getting to Work: Thoughts on the Function and Form of the School-to-Work Transition Lauren B. Resnick The question of articulation between the formal schooling system and young people's early work experience is as old as schooling itself. Once it became normal for most young people to be educated in schools rather than in apprenticeships, or even less formal on-the-job settings, the transition between school and work took on broad social import. Over the years public discussions in this country have mostly concerned issues of selection and preparation for the work force. For the most part there has been only peripheral attention to how the nature of the transition between schoolhouse and workplace might affect the broad social fabric of the nation: the kinds of responsibilities people feel toward one another, their sense of belonging to a polity, their sense of personal and civic purpose. In the course of this essay I will discuss all three of these functions of a school-to-work system, considering the kinds of institutional arrangements and technical resources each calls for and how a system might be designed that meets all three sets of needs. To set the stage, I begin with a brief consideration of the three functions. Selection And Signaling Economists have long been concerned with the ways in which school performance and educational attainment can play a role in allocating young people to job opportunities (e.g., Arrow, 1973; Spence, 1974; Wolpin, 1977). More recently, John Bishop (1996), has argued that a more efficient system of signaling high school students' competencies to employers would be economically beneficial to employers by helping them to select the candidates most likely to perform

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--> well in their companies. Such a system, he claims, would also motivate individual students to greater effort. Similar arguments are made in this volume. Advocates of more efficient signaling systems note that employers today are not, for the most part, attending to evidence of the quality of high school performance. Such evidence is not easily available to employers, to be sure, but it is also true that employers rarely ask for it. When queried about why, many express distrust of high school records, claiming that grade inflation and the irrelevance of much that is taught in high school render the high school diploma of little value as a signal of a young person's competence in the workplace. Some employers see little value in the high school record because they are looking for very little in the way of academic or technical preparation. They seek instead little more than regularity of attendance at work and willingness to carry out routine chores reliably and personably. These are mostly employers who offer little in the way of career prospects to young people. They are the kinds of jobs through which, according to Zemsky (Chapter 3, this volume), many young people churn between their late teens and mid-to-late twenties. Improving The Skill And Talent Pool Another growing group of employers, however, complain that they need better prepared, more highly skilled workers and that there are good jobs with career prospects going unfilled because of a lack of adequately prepared young people (see also Chapter 2, this volume). They want some skills that have traditionally been the purview of the high schools and postsecondary vocational training system: knowledge of mathematics, science, communication, some specific technical skills. But they also want what Murnane and Levy (1996) call the new basics: the ''soft skills" of teamwork, resource management, and problem solving (see also Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1991 and New Standards, 1997). The importance of these skills today derives from basic changes in the economy. The dramatic growth of communication and transportation capabilities over the past two or three decades has brought an end to isolated national and regional economies. All goods and many services can now be shipped anywhere in the world. At the same time, the productive capacities of Europe and Japan have recovered from their postwar incapacity and many formerly underdeveloped countries have become able to produce goods and services of a quality interesting to buyers in the more developed parts of the world (see also Baumol et al, 1991). The resulting international competition has increased the demand for highly reliable goods and services and for customization. Not only can goods and services be shipped all over the world but so too can most jobs. There is far less advantage today than there used to be in producing goods close to buyers. Even many services can be provided long distance. For example, with the availability of reliable and speedy electronic networks, data-handling

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--> services can be carried out anywhere. The "back room" of a New York bank can be in Ireland or Singapore. Economic theory predicts that over time jobs will migrate to wherever in the world the balance between wage demands and the productive capacity of the work force works out most favorably for companies. Only highly skilled work forces—people with the capacity and the will to use their minds as well as their hands in work that is varied and challenging—will be able to command the kind of wages that many Americans thought was their birthright until 10 or 20 years ago. That is one reason the high-wage/low-skill factories, the backbone of American prosperity until the 1970s, have been closing and why real wages have declined dramatically for all but the top, college-educated population. That is also why a critical long-term investment the country can make in its economic future is an investment in skills. Mending A Fraying Social Fabric An organized program of school-to-work transition is not, however, just about the economics of jobs and incomes. It is also about policies and technical tools for a radically revised way of welcoming American young people into the responsibilities and rewards of productive adulthood. The data reported by Zemsky (Chapter 3, this volume) confirm what people familiar with the hiring practices of American companies have been saying for some years: most companies are afraid of young people, viewing them as unreliable workers. They would rather hire more mature individuals, those in their upper twenties and, when possible, those who come with some prior history of work. But there exists in this country no systematic way for most young people to gain the experience that would make them attractive to employers. So they drift from one short-term minimum-wage job to another, with frequent periods of unemployment in between. This kind of churning seems to be the experience of a substantial majority of our young people in the 18- to 28-year-old range. This is not a marginal underclass. It is not ethnically or racially limited. With the exception of a small number of technical associate degrees offered by community colleges and sometimes by proprietary trade schools, the 75 percent or so in this country who do not earn a bachelors degree have nothing serious to show for their effort, training, study, and even work experience. They have no credentials that are honored by employers and no way of building a resume of evidence that shows how a young potential employee can benefit a potential employer. As they drift from one short-term job to another, the experience of churning develops and reinforces among young adults the lack of responsibility about which many older people complain. A commitment to work and self-improvement is not available to or expected of them. (I believe that this experience has much to do with why many young fathers walk away from their family responsibilities.

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--> Unable to meet traditional family financial responsibilities even if they want to, multiple social pressures drive young men away from situations in which the most likely outcome of their efforts will be failure.) For all who experience it, this kind of early adulthood carries the message that society does not need or want them as responsible adults. For society as a whole, a critical opportunity to welcome young people into full citizenship and social responsibility is lost. For many young people, drifting and a lack of commitment become a way of life. The extent of the problem, in social terms, is underlined in Katherine Newman's (1988) study of the declining fortunes of the American middle class. According to Newman, many children of people who achieved middle class status in the heady years of economic growth following World War II have been unable to follow in their parents' footsteps. Unable to establish a secure economic foothold for themselves, they are losing both their economic hopes for the future and a sense that their efforts will pay off. America has now experienced more than 20 years of declining real wages for all except the top two or three deciles of wage earners (see, e.g., Murnane and Levy, 1996), a decline related to a general slowing of economic growth since the early 1970s. As Jeffrey Madrick (1995) has suggested, there is no guarantee that we can return to the high growth rates of the postwar decades. In friendlier economic times we could largely rely on tossing young people into the economy as a way of socializing them and welcoming them into adulthood and responsibility. That option has now ended. Frontier and economic boom thinking cannot substitute for thinking institutionally and socially about our young people. Other countries have known this for some time and have been developing more structured patterns of absorbing young people into adulthood. We need to do the same, or we face a very uncertain social future, even if measured unemployment continues at its present low rates. An Effort-Based School-To-Work System A school-to-work system that could reasonably meet the triple goals of signaling, improving the skill pool, and providing a smooth transition to adult responsibility must be designed, above all, to evoke and reward directed effort by young people at each stage of their careers. Such an effort-based system would not only motivate learning and thus enhance the overall skill levels among our young people but also restore to the young a sense that they can make positive and productive contributions to society. Creating such a system will require overcoming long traditions in both education and job selection of privileging judgments about aptitude over expenditure of effort. Our present system of education and its accompanying modes of entry into the work force were designed primarily around a belief that talent and ability are largely inherited and fixed. Educational practices are designed to select the talented, to educate them in high-demand curricula (e.g., programs for the gifted and talented, Advanced Placement

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--> causes), and to provide the others with either a general education or a vocational preparation—often of a kind ill suited to the demands of today's high-performance workplaces. IQ tests or their surrogates are used to determine who will have access to enriched programs. This curriculum is denied to other students who are judged less capable. Our typical standardized tests are normed to compare students with one another rather than with a standard of excellence. We expect teachers to grade on a curve. If most students receive As or Bs, we often assume that standards are too low, discounting the possibility that they may all have worked hard and succeeded in learning what was taught. These practices make learning invisible to students and everyone else: one can learn a lot in the course of a year and yet remain in the same relative ranking compared with others. Effort is suppressed for all but the best students. College entrance, the ultimate prize for many students, also is heavily dependent on tests that have little to do with the curriculum studied and that are designed—like IQ tests—to spread students out on a scale rather than to define what one is supposed to work at learning. The same is true of most tests used for employment selection. From the students' point of view, there is no apparent way to prepare for these tests, nothing specific they can do to ready themselves for high-demand, interesting work. Our current tests are designed with prediction, not skill and knowledge certification, as their primary goal. The technology of predictive test design calls for a focus on discriminating among applicants rather than describing what specific skills or knowledge an applicant has mastered. Our most frequently used "high-stakes" tests—those used for selection into colleges (e.g., ACT and SAT) and the military (ASVAB)—are deliberately designed not to reflect any specific curriculum. This practice grew up in an era when it was widely believed that certain kinds of tests (usually called aptitude or ability tests) could detect raw talent, without regard to how that talent had been developed through education. Tests divorced from established courses of study, it was believed, would permit students from institutions with different curricula and different quality of instruction to compete on a level playing field (for a historical review of testing in the U.S., see, e.g., W. Garner and A. Wigdor, 1982; D. Resnick, 1982; R. E. Fancher, 1985; OTA, 1992). The practice continues, although now it is generally acknowledged that aptitude tests reflect the overall quality and quantity of a person's education (so that, for example, distributions of SAT scores are routinely used to assess how well schools are performing). These testing and tracking practices are institutionalized expressions of a belief in the importance of aptitude (Resnick, 1995). Their routine and largely unquestioned use continues to create evidence that confirms aptitude-based thinking. Students who have not been taught a demanding, challenging curriculum do not do well on tests of reasoning or problem solving, confirming our original suspicions that they did not have the talent for that kind of thinking. Students do

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--> not try to break through the barrier of low expectations because they, like their teachers and parents, accept the judgment that aptitude matters most and that they do not have the right kinds of aptitude. Not surprisingly, their performance remains low. The system is a self-sustaining one in which hidden assumptions are continually reinforced by the inevitable results of practices based on those assumptions. It is not necessary to continue this way. Teaching and even selection practices could be built around the alternative assumption that effort actually creates ability, that patterns of who tries hard can directly influence ultimate patterns of competence in individuals and in society at large (see Howard, 1995). Effort-oriented education and training emphatically do not mean awarding students As for effort when the quality of their work only warrants a D or an F grade. Rather it means carefully linking effort and achievement in ways that are likely to improve not only specific knowledge but also an overall ability to learn effectively. Focus on Learning Goals A long-term program of research on achievement goal orientation by social and developmental psychologists provides a theoretical grounding for such an approach (e.g., Ames, 1984; Dweck and Leggett, 1988; Nicholls, 1979, 1984; Resnick and Nelson-Le Gall, 1997). This research shows that the kinds of achievement goals that people have can affect not only how much effort they put into learning tasks but also the kinds of effort. Two broad classes of goals have been identified: performance-oriented and learning-oriented. People with performance goals strive to obtain positive evaluations of their ability and to avoid giving evidence of inadequate ability relative to others. Performance goals are associated with a view of ability as an unchangeable global entity that is displayed in task performance, revealing that the individual either has or lacks ability. This view of ability or aptitude has sometimes been termed an entity theory of intelligence. In contrast, people with learning goals generally strive to develop their ability with respect to particular tasks. Learning goals are associated with a view of aptitude as something that is mutable through effort and is developed by taking an active stance toward learning and mastery opportunities. Learning goals are associated with a view of ability as a repertoire of skills continuously expandable through one's efforts. Accordingly, this view of aptitude has been labeled an incremental theory of intelligence (Dweck and Leggett, 1988). People who hold incremental views of intelligence tend to invest energy to learn something new or to increase their understanding and mastery of tasks. But brute energy alone does not distinguish them from people with entity theories. Incremental theorists are particularly likely to apply self-regulatory metacognitive skills when they encounter task difficulties and to focus on analyzing the task and

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--> trying to generate and execute alternative strategies. In general, they try to garner resources for problem solving wherever they can: from their own store of cognitive learning strategies and from others from whom they strategically seek help (Dweck, 1988; Nelson-Le Gall, 1990; Nelson-Le Gall and Jones, 1990). In general, these individuals display continued high levels of task-related effort in response to difficulty. The achievement goals that individuals pursue also appear to influence the inferences they make about effort and ability. Performance goals place the greater effort necessary for mastering challenging tasks in conflict with the need to be regarded as already competent, whereas learning goals lead to adaptive motivational patterns that can produce a quality of task engagement and commitment to learning that fosters high levels of achievement over time. An effort-oriented system of the kind I am advocating would be designed to create a learning orientation in our students by teaching them both strategies for learning and broad disposition for applying them (see Resnick and Nelson-Le Gall, 1997). There are several essential features of an effort-oriented education system (see Resnick, 1995): first, very clear (absolute rather than comparative) expectations—that is, standards for achievement; second, fair and credible evaluations of achievement that are geared to the standards; third, celebration and payoff for success in meeting learning expectations; fourth, access to training and work opportunities based on demonstrated accomplishment and willingness to meet work expectations; and, finally, as much time and expert instruction as necessary to meet the standards. Clear Achievement Standards Achievement standards—publicly announced and meant for everyone—are the essential foundation of an equitable, effort-oriented school-to-work system. If young people are to work hard, they need to know what they are aiming for. They need not only to try hard but also to organize their efforts. A school-to-work achievement standards system would begin with a clear set of accomplishment expectations for high school students. These could be defined as standards-referenced assessments that must be passed or as courses that must be taken or credits to be earned. In the latter case, unless the course and credit list specifies the content that must be learned and the quality of work that will count as meeting the expectation, it is not truly an achievement standard. At this foundation stage of a school-to-work system, it is important to set the same high expectations for all students. That will provide a solid foundation for effort by students and teachers alike. This is the idea behind the proposal of a "Certificate of Initial Mastery" (Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, 1990; Tucker, 1994), an accomplishment-based certificate from which students could go on to more specialized academic or work-oriented learning opportunities.

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--> Assessments for Which Students Can Prepare The next key component of an effort-based school-to-work system is to give students the opportunity to prepare, in a direct and unambiguous way, for the assessments that will certify their accomplishments and open doors of opportunity for them. As I noted earlier, most tests used today are not designed to be studied for. They are not geared to a particular curriculum, and they become invalid when students are directly trained to take them. The same is true of most selection tests for jobs and higher education. They are geared to assumptions of aptitude in which hard work and direct preparation are not rewarded. Our new effort-oriented school-to-work system needs to change that by using exams and other forms of assessments (e.g., externally graded portfolios of their work) for which students can study. To make them worth studying for, these new assessments are likely to include a substantial representation of performance tasks: open-ended questions requiring exam takers to perform a relatively complex task and, often, explain how and why their solution to a problem is appropriate. After a period of skepticism about the possibilities of creating performance assessments that would meet criteria of valid and reliable measurement, it is now becoming clear that appropriate mixes of extended tasks and short items, along with careful training of graders, can yield accurate and reliable test scores (New Standards Technical Studies Unit, 1997). Furthermore, with adequate structuring, it now seems possible to include portfolios as part of a formal measurement system (Myford and Mislevy, 1994), although issues of cost are not trivial (see, e.g., Klein, 1997). Payoff for Successful Learning A school-to-work system that actively tries to promote effort must make it clear to participants that effort and accomplishment will be rewarded. In-school and community recognition for accomplishment in learning is important in much the way that fans at a game are important to the athletes. Recognition sustains effort. For adolescents and young adults, however, fans and cheers are not enough. These young people have to see the relationship between the work they are asked to do in a preparatory setting—whether in school or a workplace internship—and their opportunities for further schooling and satisfying work. This is why it is essential that a reformed school-to-work system be built around credentials honored by employers and institutions of further learning. First steps toward this desirable state of affairs are now being taken in the form of revised high school transcript systems and employer pledges to require evidence of high school accomplishment when considering students. Systems such as "Work Keys" (American College Testing, 1995) go a step further, providing a profile of students' performance on various academic and aptitude tests that can be matched to the general requirements of particular jobs. But none of

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--> these, as currently constituted, fully meets the criteria for an effort-oriented system—for the tests on which they are based are not referenced to specific performance standards. What Kinds Of Skills And Knowledge Are Needed? A standards-based education plan brings into high relief the question of what kinds of education standards we want to set and for whom. How closely should school programs be linked to the demands of jobs? What kinds of jobs should drive our thinking about curriculum and assessment? Should our outcome standards—and thus assessments and curricula—be focused on the kinds of skills employers seek now and thus would reward immediately, or should they focus on the future, high-performance workplace? The choice between the skill sets of the present and those of a desired future could drive our standards and education systems in radically different ways. Our present aptitude-based education and selection system was built on an assumption—reasonable in the 1920s but not now—that we needed only a minority of really well-educated people in the adult population. The others would work at low-demand jobs, many of which would nevertheless pay well by virtue of the way in which work and workers were organized. This view is no longer tenable both because of international competition and because machines have become smart enough to do many of the tasks that only people used to be able to do. Machines can not only fabricate but also monitor the fabrication process within broad limits. Intelligent machines can keep track of masses of data and can signal deviations from standard expectations. They can answer telephones and handle routine inquiries. The list of machine capabilities grows yearly. The inexorable logic of intelligent machines is that the work left for humans to do will increasingly be the nonprogrammable tasks. These are the tasks that are not routinized, where surprise and variability must be accommodated, where only adaptive human intelligence can make the evaluations and decisions needed to assure the fine tuning that makes the difference between high quality that is delivered promptly and shoddy goods and services with unreliable delivery. The demand for thinking in the high performance workplace creates an opportunity for a truly new kind of school-to-work system, one in which the call for a humanizing education and preparation for work are—perhaps for the first time in history and certainly for the first time since the industrial revolution—in harmony rather than in conflict. At the end of the eighteenth century, Thomas Jefferson promoted the ideal of a universally educated yeoman citizenry, free farmers with the will and the background to debate the public issues of the day and reach reasoned conclusions. Before his vision could be realized, however, new demands born of industrialization and the movement from farms to cities set economic and democratic aspirations at war. From the earliest years of public education in America, leading educators—Horace

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--> Mann in the nineteenth century, John Dewey in the twentieth, for example—aimed for schools that would cultivate the questioning and reasoning processes and skills of democratic social interaction that were needed by all citizens in a properly functioning democracy. Others joined with the democratic theorists to promote education for full personal lives: lifelong learning and the capacity to engage with enthusiasm and competence in multiple pursuits, ranging from parenting to leisure activities, that would fill people's longer and longer lives. But the demands of the growing industrial economy were different. Industrialists called for a large supply of literate but docile factory workers who would accept the boring and sometimes dangerous conditions of industrial production. Their view of education was locked into place early in this century by a series of policy and educational management decisions that modeled American school systems on the efficient Taylorized factory. Given this history it is not surprising that many educators and social commentators resist turning our schools into "vocational machines." Such commentators, like several of the authors in this volume, are worried that overly tight linking of schooling to specific workplace demands can lead to constriction of what is taught and to pressures for early tracking and streaming that could restrict individual opportunity. The high-performance workplace, however, is producing a very different set of educational demands than did traditional forms of work. For the first time since the industrial revolution, the demands being made on the education system from the perspectives of economic productivity, democratic citizenship, and personal fulfillment are convergent. Today's high-performance workplace calls for the same kind of person that Horace Mann and John Dewey sought: someone able to analyze a situation, make reasoned judgments, communicate well, engage with others to reason through differences of opinion, and intelligently employ the complex tools and technologies that can liberate or enslave, according to use. What is more, the new workplace calls for people who can learn new skills and knowledge as conditions change—lifelong learners, in short. As a result, this is a moment of extraordinary opportunity in which business, labor, and education leaders can set a new common course in which preparation for work and preparation for civic and personal life no longer need be in competition. The only way to achieve this higher level of skill and ability in the population at large is to make sure that all students, not just a privileged and selected fraction, learn the high-level embedded symbolic thinking skills of the future. Throughout the industrialized world, business, labor, and education leaders have been coming together to articulate education goals that reflect this convergence. In this country the SCANS commission (Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, 1991) laid out a set of foundation and work readiness skills. New Standards (1997) has extended the SCANS skills in a framework that identifies three categories of problem-solving skills (design a product, service, or system; improve a system; plan and organize an event or activity), plus

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--> communication tools and techniques, information tools and techniques, learning and self-management tools and techniques, tools and techniques for working with others. The SCANS/New Standards competencies are in good accord with the standards and framework documents of other countries. The competencies outlined by SCANS and New Standards Applied Learning are generic in nature. They are not targeted to any particular job or even group of occupations. Applied learning competencies are not "job skills" for students who are judged incapable of or indifferent to the challenges and opportunities of academic learning. They are the kinds of abilities all Americans will need, both in the workplace and in their roles as citizens. They are the thinking and reasoning abilities demanded by colleges and by the growing number of high-performance workplaces, those that expect employees at every level of the organization to take responsibility for the quality of products and services. Signaling, Learning, And Social Responsibility: A Credentialing System For All Americans How can all of this be merged into a coherent system that can play all three of the functions outlined at the beginning of this essay—signaling and selection, improving the skill and talent pool, and providing a welcoming route into responsible adulthood? Much depends, I think, on developing a system of skill and knowledge credentialing that provides clear targets at which students and educators can aim while also providing some help to employers in selecting promising employees. Absent the latter, employers will be disinterested in the system, and the motivational impact of credentials will be minimal. The need for a credentialing system based on accomplishments extends well beyond passage from high school to initial work entry. Our current lack of such credentials effectively traps workers, young and older, in their current jobs with little opportunity for mobility. To illustrate, I describe two young workers whose "learning biographies" have been studied. Chris works for a small heating and air-conditioning installation company, installing ducts and equipment at construction sites ranging from private homes to public housing projects. Teddy works in a midsize manufacturing plant that designs and builds honing and polishing machinery. Both men have stories of drift and churning in their backgrounds, but both now represent success stories, including being recognized by their supervisors as stars in the making. Although both hold reasonably well-paid jobs that call for and recognize considerable skill, both know they are tracked, that their chances for job mobility and promotion are severely limited. As Teddy explained, "I don't know where I could go. I am tied down here because all of my learning has been on the job." Because there is no way in our system to demonstrate what he knows, his skills are not recognizable and his practical chances are limited. Teddy and Chris are two very productive workers in small American businesses

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--> who cannot move to other jobs. If those businesses should not be able to sustain themselves, these men are vulnerable, expressing some of the same worries as Katherine Newman's informants. They recognize the current trend toward contingent workers, although without using economists' fancy words. They say, in effect, ''My only capital is what I know, but nobody can see it, and so I am vulnerable." A performance-based credentialing system would be a bulwark against that vulnerability. At the same time, such a system would provide motivation for learning. It would, thereby, help to create learning and work opportunities and not just allocate people to the limited opportunities that now exist. Assessments for a Credentialing System An effort-oriented credentialing system will require a different system of testing and assessment than is traditional in the United States. To see why, consider three broad functions of work-related assessment: selection of workers, guidance of instruction and learning, and certification of competence with respect to specific standards and guidance. Selection of Workers This is the most common function of work-related assessment, and sophisticated technologies for selection testing have been developed over many decades (see Chapter 9, this volume). These tests usually measure the traits (e.g., cognitive, social, attitudinal) of individuals and are not based on analyses of the kinds of jobs workers will need to do. An initially presumed match between measurable traits and job needs is verified by studies of how well the tests predict job performance (as measured by supervisors' ratings, promotion records, and the like). Because a test's predictive capabilities are its primary criterion of validity, there is no need for the items on the test to match directly any aspect of actual job performance. This makes it possible to use a number of item formats and testing techniques that are cost efficient and reliable. However, these predictively validated tests are virtually impossible to use in developing a generally more competent work force. Training individuals to do better on the items of a predictive test will often raise test scores but lower the predictive validity of the test. For this reason I argue against the use of predictive test methodology as the primary basis for a credentialing system. Instructional Assessment It is common to build assessment into instructional programs. Such assessments can range from simple end-of-chapter quizzes to sophisticated assessments embedded in electronically delivered instruction. These assessments are primarily diagnostic in function, suggesting to students or teachers exactly what they

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--> should focus on next. To work well, they need to be tied directly to the instructional program being used. For exactly that reason, however, instructionally oriented assessments are probably not an appropriate focus for credentialing. They would require a choice among instructional delivery programs and even among teaching methods, rather than providing the framework for a system in which multiple providers with different ideas about how to teach successfully could all compete. Certification of Competence Assessments aimed at certifying competence take direct aim at the kinds of activities in which workers are likely to engage. They start with a standard that specifies both a unit of work for which a worker might be responsible and the output or performance criteria for successful completion of that work. With the standard as a point of reference, assessment developers then organize one or more situations (usually called tasks or prompts) in which candidates can engage in the kinds of performance called for in the standard. Validity of such assessments lies in the extent to which the task or prompt actually evokes the kind of performance the standard demands, as well as in the extent to which judges can agree on the quality of the performance and to which there is adequate sampling of the range of performances considered important. Because of this direct match to standards, competence certification assessments can be used as targets for training and education, although usually not as diagnostic instruments. They can thus contribute materially to the production of an increased pool of skilled and knowledgeable applicants for jobs. Prediction is not, at the outset, a primary concern of certification assessment, although the match to actual job performances will yield a high measure of face validity for employers. In addition, certification assessments can be used to predict competence on the job by adding to the development process studies of the relationship between scores on a cluster of certification assessments and supervisor ratings or other measures of an employed person's eventual success on the job. In sum, disconnected from curricula and not specific about what has been mastered or what is to be learned, most of today's tests are poor vehicles for certification and credentialing. They cannot evoke directed effort toward specific learning goals, so they do not support creation of an effort-oriented education system. They are not, therefore, tools for raising the overall pool of skills and knowledge in our society. Furthermore, because they do not specify for employers the skills and knowledge that students have acquired, they cannot easily play the role of more efficient signaling that is called for by economists concerned with tighter school-employment linkages. By focusing on certification of competence, in contrast, we could meet all three major goals of a school-to-work system. Certifications can organize and motivate learning, thus improving the overall level of work-relevant skill and

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--> knowledge in our population. They can assist employers in selecting workers, which will also maintain the motivational power of the system. And, finally, a system of certification beginning with very general competencies and proceeding toward increasing specialization (such as that envisaged in the new program of the National Skill Standards Board) can provide young people with pathways into the kinds of work opportunity that will allow them to take their places in society as responsible contributing adults. References American College Testing 1995 Work Keys USA 2(1). Ames, C. 1984 Competitive, cooperative, and individualistic goal structures: A motivational analysis. Pp. 177-207 in Research on Motivation, Vol. 1, R. Ames and C. Ames, eds. San Diego: Academic Press. Arrow, Kenneth 1973 Higher Education as a Filter. Journal of Public Economics 2:193-216. Baumol, William J., Sue Anne Batey Blackman, and Edward N. Wolff 1991 Productivity and American Leadership: The Long View. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Bishop, J. 1996 Signaling the competencies of high school students to employers. Pp. 79-124 in Linking School and Work: Roles for Standards and Assessment , L.B. Resnick and J.G. Wirt, eds. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce 1990 America's Choice: High Skills or Low Wages! Washington, DC: National Center on Education and the Economy. Dweck, C.S. 1988 Motivation. Pp. 187-239 in Handbook of Psychology and Education , R. Glaser and A. Lesgold, eds. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Dweck, C.S., and E.L Leggett 1988 A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review 95:256-273. Fancher, Raymond E. 1985 The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Co. Garner, Wendall R., and Alexandra K. Wigdor, eds. 1982 Ability Testing: Uses, Consequences, and Controversies. Committee on Ability Testing, National Research Council. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Howard, J. 1995 You can't get there from here: The need for a new logic in education reform. Daedalus 124:85-92.\ Klein, Stephen 1997 The Lost Effectiveness of Performance Measures. Unpublished remarks at the conference, "Science Educational Standards: The Assessment of Science Meets the Science of Assessment," Board on Testing and Assessment, National Research Council, Washington, DC, February 22-23. Madrick, J. 1995 The End of Affluence: The Causes and Consequences of America's Economic Dilemma. New York: Random House.

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